Variety is the spice of life: A Fusion of Beauty, Sustainability, and Health in Urban Forestry

Plant diversity plays an essential role in maintaining the eco-friendly balance of our environment as well as the visual appeal of our outdoor living spaces. Take a second to imagine a landscape with just one type of shade tree, one type of flowering shrub, or a never ending sheet of grassy turf. Pretty boring visual, right? From an aesthetic perspective we prefer to see variation. It’s much more appealing to conjure an image of year round color in a perennial garden or various heights and shapes of foliage cascading over a backyard. Variety is beautiful. Variety is also practical. So let’s talk about why the sustainable practice of incorporating plant diversity in our landscapes and urban forests is important.

Planning a landscape with an assortment of plants and trees tends to be healthier and more resilient, with a better capacity to withstand pests, diseases, and changes in climate. A landscape that offers an assortment of plants creates a more diverse neighborhood of insects which includes all of those “good bugs” we need to help keep insect pest populations low. Achieving this type of backyard means less pesticides and money spent trying to protect your outdoor oasis. Additionally, diverse landscapes will draw in more pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds which help facilitate plant reproduction. Depending on how wild you want to get, you can attract a wide range of wildlife to your own backyard!

Enough about plants and bugs, let’s talk about some benefits to you. Spending time in diverse natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. Plants also offer varying degrees of shade, creating microclimates within your landscape that can be cooler and more comfortable during the warmer months. The different shapes, colors, and textures that diverse plants provide create a vibrant and visually dynamic landscape. Whether it’s the soft, elegant allure of ornamental grasses, the vivid colors of blooming flowers, or the stately grandeur of mature trees, a diverse landscape can inspire, soothe, and uplift. Plant diversity enhances the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space.

As we move towards a future of sustainable living, let’s embrace the beauty and functionality of diverse plant life in our own backyards. It’s a practical, sustainable, and healthful approach to living that can enhance your well-being, contribute to the health of the planet, and provide a sanctuary for many creatures.